Friday, June 11, 2010

North Korea

It's hard to get a grip on what's happening in North Korea. The NYT had a great piece yesterday and a picture that says it all:

Also, a nice video report from the BBC here

One striking feature is the belief in an outsider plot organized by the US and South Korea. From the NYT piece

At least two of those interviewed in China hewed to the official propaganda line that North Korea was a victim of die-hard enemies, its impoverishment a Western plot, its survival threatened by the United States, South Korea and Japan.
South Korea’s charge that North Korea sank one of its warships, the Cheonan, in March was just part of the plot, the party official’s wife said.
“That’s why we have weapons to protect ourselves,”

Also, it seems like a substantial part of the population is employed by the state on paper, but they  don't actually do any work for it. They pay the company to make sure they are reported present so that they don't get caught by the state.

On paper, he said, a Chongjin state construction company employs him. But the company has few supplies and no cash to pay its employees. So like more than a third of the workers, the worker said, he pays roughly $5 a month to sign in as an employee on the company’s daily log — and then toil elsewhere.

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